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Do you ever wonder why those people who work on the night shifts have larger waistlines? Well, wonder no more. A new study conducted by a group of researchers from the Department of Neuroendocrinology, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany and published in the June 2011 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that sleep loss may be the main culprit to weight gain.

Deprivation in sleep makes one drowsy and groggy during the day. And this does not only affect the mental capabilities of a person only but also  his body’s metabolism too, says the researchers of this study.

Alarmingly, sleep deprivation does not only promote more weight gain by increasing the appetite but also by slowing the  rate of caloric burning too. The researchers suggest that getting ample amounts of sleep per day can prevent weight gain.

In the present generation, 50 to 70 million adult Americans suffer from chronic loss of sleep leading to the development of sleep disorders, says the National Institute of Health.

There are previous studies that point their fingers to sleep deprivation as a major cause of weight gain, saying that the disrupted sleeping pattern also disrupts the level of hormones regulating hunger during the waking hours.

In this study, the researchers recruited 14 male university students and assessed their sleeping patterns. They were then categorized depending on their sleep condition. After which, their food intake, blood sugar, hormonal levels and their metabolic rates were then assessed accordingly. They found that those who missed some sleep have slower metabolic rate the following morning compared to those who had enough rest. This slowed metabolic rate reduced their body’s mean energy expenditure through breathing and digestion to as much as 5 to 20 percent the next day. Furthermore, those who had sleep deprivation also have a higher blood sugar level and ghrelin, the appetite regulating hormone. Stress hormone such as the cortisol also increased in the process.

A number of studies suggests that people who sleep less than five hours per day tend to have more weight gain and increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.


The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; Acute sleep deprivation reduces energy expenditure in healthy men; Benedict, c. et al.; June 2011


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